A Michigan pastor has been accused of sexually assaulting a woman he was supposed to be anointing with oil. In what was supposed to be a cleansing ritual, his hand reportedly slipped into her pants.
Justine Morden said the incident happened last year, when she was 19. She asked Pastor Mitch Olson of Grace Ministry Center, someone she had known since she was in 6th grade, for help repenting of her sins. He said he could anoint her with oil, but the proper oil wasn’t in church. Later that night, she got a text message asking for the address of her apartment. He had the oil and offered to meet her at her place.
That sounds incredibly sketchy, and what reportedly happened next was even worse.
According to the police report, “Olson then said a prayer and placed oil on her head, Olson then did the same on (her) shoulders. Olson then asked if he could put the oil on her breasts (she) said yes and Olson put his hand down the front of (her) shirt making skin to skin contact with (her) breasts. Olson then put oil on (her) stomach/mid-section. Olson then asked he could put oil on (her) buttock, (she) responded yes. Olson then put his hand down the back of (her) pants and made skin to skin contact with (her) buttock cheeks. Olson then asked if he could put oil on (her) pubic area (front of pants), (she) responded yes. Olson then put his hand down the front of (her) pants and made skin to skin contact with (her) pubic region. Olson then touched (her) knees and ended with her feet.”
Morden was just doing what she thought was required of the ritual. It was only after she told her mother about it that she learned this was in no way sanctioned by God.
“When I explained it to my mom, she said it wasn’t right,” she told the Times Herald. “I believed it was what really had to be done, but he grabbed, groped my boobs.”
What does the church have to say about this? According to the police report, Justin Mcburney, an assistant pastor who has since resigned from the church, said that Olson admitted things went too far, but that he didn’t intentionally do anything wrong.
… Mcburney stated that Olson told him that “the oil bottle had broken, getting oil all over. Olson said it was possible his hand had slipped and his hand might have gone in her pants. Olson also said he should have not gone over to (her) house.”
I’m trying to figure out how someone’s hand could accidentally slip inside someone else’s pants, and I’m drawing a blank. It apparently didn’t make sense to the church Board, either, since the police report includes this passage:
Olson became evasive about his hand going into Justine’s pants. It got to the point one of the Board members stood up and placed his hand on his pubic region asking how far Olson’s hand might of [sic] gone in Justine’s pants. Olson at that point acknowledge [sic] it was possible.
Morden has also posted video on Facebook telling her side of the story:
The Times Herald says that while a St. Clair County prosecutor is looking into potential criminal charges, Morden isn’t sure she wants to file a lawsuit if that doesn’t pan out. Mostly, she wants to spread awareness of what happened so there are no other victims. This isn’t the first time Olson has made young women feel uncomfortable (or worse), either, so awareness is no small thing.
By the way, another disturbing aspect of this story is how the church Board reacted when they learned of the incident.
The board ultimately decided that the woman [Morden] should give Olson forgiveness and pursue her relationship with God.
She had to give him forgiveness. He kept his job, but the victim had to forgive her alleged assaulter. It’s the exact sort of mentality that might lead a pastor to take advantage of a young woman. He would know his word is going to be trusted over hers.